FROM 1-5. Mid Pacific to Heading South

Feb 14, 2005 - 0243hrsUTC

0243hrs 14 Feb 2005 UTC 45’49”S 138’10”W Map Ref 62 3422nm

We are sitting under the ridge that has been chasing us for the last couple of days.   Not much wind, from the south, full main and #1, rolling and slatting a bit but some forward progress.   Wind should come round to the west later.   There’s a huge swell rolling in from the south, as big as I’ve ever seen, presumably from the low that went through yesterday.  The grib was forecasting 40-50 at 50S.

So we got stuck into the backlog of little jobs – Pete fixed one of the clamps on the stormboard with epoxy and screws and reinforced all the others using our 12v portable battery drill modified to run from a cigarette lighter socket or directly off the boat’s battery terminals.  Which leads to another little gem that has worked superbly: our 12v auxiliary portable battery pack designed for jump-starting cars and pumping tyres and rubber duckies. It has 2 cig. lighter sockets, two heavy duty terminal clamps and a little air compressor built in – and we can run the drill from it without dropping the main battery charge, and then recharge it when we have a bit of speed to drive our generator.   And if all else fails, it should have enough to start the engine or run the laptop and the HF for a day or so.   Needs to be kept where it is least likely to get wet and well waterproofed. Every boat should have one.   Ours came from Whitworths but they are widely available. 

And I did a bit of analysis of the desalinator problem we have been having, including reading the instructions.  It has only produced water intermittently and I have always assumed that this was because it was getting air in the intake line when the boat rolled the intake valve out of the water.   I checked all the lines using the big dolphin torch to monitor bubbles and water flow through them (there are three lines – sea water intake, concentrated brine output and drinking water output plus a bit of extra plumbing to allow the use of biocide and cleaning agents when doing maintenance) and I found that we had a lot of air bubbles moving along the intake line so more likely a significant air leak rather than or at least as well as periodic ingestion through the intake valve.   Much headbanging later, when every joint had been checked and clamped and the Doctor consulted, we switched it on again and the bubbles in the intake line seem to have been eliminated and the thing produced 6 litres without complaint. And the new membrane produces water that tastes much better than our tank water. Big whoopeee and a further consultation to celebrate.   And we pulled in the turbine – duct tape seems to have worked and the towline was not chafed – nor was there any damage to the turbine, whether caused by cavitation (thanks Don) or electrolysis or corrosion.   Will give it another few days before trying self vulcanising rubber tape if necessary. 

Am about to go out and insulate the four ‘live’ bolts on the generator.   Which having been attempted, isn’t going to be as easy as I thought.   Normal insulating tape won’t adhere and geometry prevents wrapping.   Blobs of sikaflex perhaps?

Wildlife report – there are what look like baby bluebottles or portugese men o’ war all over the ocean.   Small transparent bubble sails with almost no colour in the underside.   We found a full sized fully coloured one washed up on deck a few days ago.   I had always thought that they are warm water dwellers.

Milestones – we finished Hilary’s S2H cake today and we’re about to unwrap the Doyles’ home product version – watch this space.   And tomorrow some time we should pass the half way point between NZ and the Horn.   All sailmail now going throughChile- propagation improving daily as we get closer.

Jeanne, please pass on best wishes to Bob and Eugenie.   Just cant leave some people on their own…

Gerry, did you tell the Pelagic mob that we’re on our way?  I think Catherine Hew is following us anyway, and we’ll give them a call in a week or so.  And please send co-ordinates for the anchorage down near the Horn, in case we feel like stopping or need to duck in for shelter. We are reading the 1200UTC 8164 sked quite clearly now too.

Doug and Stephen, I’ve just realised that the sailmail propagation application updates itself with sunspot and solar flux data every time we connect to the sailmail computer.   Clever.

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